Monday, October 15, 2012

Classroom Management Plan

The educational philosophy that best mirrors my own philosophy is Experimentalism. I believe that allowing students to play a role in what they study encourages students to be self-motivated learners. Experimentalism mirrors my belief that education’s primary goal should be to prepare students to function in society. The ability to think critically, make sound decisions, and learning through discovery and experimentation are life skills that are promoted in experimentalism. Granting students autonomy is also preventive classroom management technique. Supportive and Corrective approaches are important when preventive approaches do not satisfy all of students’ needs.

Preventive Approach
All of the classroom management approaches I read about contained a preventive approach, whether it ranged from Canters’ (1976) teaching the disciplinary plan to students or Kohn’s (1996) development of a caring, supportive classroom. The preventive approach is essential to any management plan because it address behavioral issues before they arise.

1. Teach the discipline plan to students (Canter, 1976). Students cannot be expected to follow classroom rules unless they are knowledgeable of them. Students should also be educated on the hierarchy of discipline so they are familiar with the consequences for their actions. Canter emphasizes checking for understanding after the discipline procedures are taught. This entire process should only take 10 minutes of class time, especially if a teacher only uses three to five class rules as Canter suggests. 

2. Teaching a quality curriculum is essential to good discipline (Glasser, 1985). A quality curriculum meets students’ needs for survival, belonging, power, fun, and freedom. The curriculum is purposeful and challenging. Meeting the challenge of the curriculum allows students to be self-confident in their learning abilities and reduces the desire to cause classroom conflicts.

3. Help students feel a sense of belonging in class (Albert 1996). Albert identifies four ways students misbehavior in an attempt to “gain a sense of belonging” (page 96). They are attention seeking, power seeking, revenge seeking, and avoidance of failure. Some of those behaviors can be prevented by offering a sense of belonging through building confidence. One strategy to help build confidence is “helping students see that learning is a process of improvement” and “looking for activities that maximize the likelihood of success” (page 94). 

4. Anticipate types of disruptive behavior (Kagan, Kyle, Scott). Students who are acting are doing so because they are: avoiding failure, feeling the need to seek attention or control, angry with the teacher, or bored, which are four of the reasons students act out according to Kagan, Kyle, and Scott. Anticipating these behaviors can help a teacher identify what kind of personal need the student is trying to have met. Identifying the motivation behind the behavior is necessary before a teacher can correct the situation.

5. Currency exchange in the classroom (Jackson, 2010). Jackson defines classroom currency as “any behavior that students use to acquire the knowledge and skills important to your class.” In her article Start Where Your Students Are she suggests teachers understand their own values and recognize that they may be different from a student’s values. Ultimately teachers must withhold judgment, respect the students’ currency, and learn to use it to motivate their students.   

Supportive Approach
Supporting students and encouraging positive behavior is an important element to any teaching position, especially when dealing with students that feel the need to act out in class.

1. Establish quality communication in the classroom (Charles, 2008). Allowing a verbal give and take between teacher and student offers students a sense of dignity and belonging in the class. Teachers should also listen attentively to their students by showing genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings, and encourage their students’ endeavors. 

2.  Check with students before making assumptions (Nelsen and Lott, 2006). Nelsen and Lott’s book Positive Discipline in the Classroom lists five relationship builders, techniques teachers can use to foster respectful relationships with their students. Checking with students to find out what they think and feel is one of their techniques. Once a teacher understands a student’s motivation, he or she is better prepared to assist the student with their education. 

3. Encourage student feedback in class matters (Albert 1996). In order to give students a sense of ownership over their own learning and the class environment it is important that teachers ask students’ opinions and preferences about assignments, routines, and opportunities for improvement. The students’ feedback should be validated and responded to with respect by the teacher.

4.  Offer students positive recognitions for good behavior (Canter 1976). The entire class will benefit from observing a teacher offering sincere positive accolades to students who behaving in keeping with class expectations. It will offer the receiver of the accolades proper recognition and it will serve as encouragement for other students to follow class expectations. It will also remind students to follow the model of their better behaving peers.

5. Make the connection for students (Towbin, 2010). When students offer the teacher a behavior that he/she finds challenging the teacher should make an effort to find out why a student is not doing an assignment or otherwise participating in class. It is important to not simply scold one’s student and dismiss his/her behavior as laziness. Often students want to learn but need to know why an assignment is meaningful or have the autonomy to modify an assignment slightly to their learning styles or interests.

Corrective Approach
Beginning teachers often have difficulty with students who will test their boundaries. Establishing an environment of hard work and respect for others is an important responsibility of all teachers. There are a variety of strategies which teachers can choose from in order to establish such a classroom. Additionally, experienced teacher are a valuable resource for effective strategies in particular situations.

1. Focus on the misbehavior not the student (Albert 1996). When correcting a students’ misbehavior promptly and in front of the class, it is important for teachers to describe aloud the behavior that needs to be corrected. It is also important for teachers to use objective terms while avoiding insulting the student. In this way a teacher shows firmness and compassionate. 

2. Follow through with an established hierarchy of discipline (Canter 1976). A teacher must act calmly and promptly when misbehavior occurs. A teacher can be calm and decisive when discipline hierarchy has been established and taught to her class. She simply follows the corrective actions listed according to the level of severity and the number of disruptions caused that day.

3. Communicate that the disruptive behavior is unacceptable (Kagan, Kyle, and Scott). Kagan, Kyle, and Scott believe that teachers should take a student collaborated approach to discipline. They believe that once that structure has been established most students who disrupt a class will simply require a reminder to “get back on track” (160). However, the authors recognize that some situations will require more intervention on the part of the teacher. By communicating to a disruptive student that his/her behavior is unacceptable the teacher is helping him/her seek out a productive solution.

4. Send I-Messages regularly (Gordon, 1989). Gordon discourages teachers from scolding students, instead he believes teachers should express their feelings through I-Messages. I-Messages are a form of expressing ones’ feelings. I do not believe that I-Messages counter the corrective tactic of communicating that disruptive behavior is unacceptable. They should be used in differing situations. For example, if a whole class is talking and I as the teacher cannot give the lesson, I would use an I-Message in order to communicate my concern that the excessive talking is wasting learning time. 

The classroom is managed through preventive, supportive, and corrective strategies which can be employed sequentially. A teacher must have all strategies in his/her arsenal in order to combat all types of disruptions. I have selected my preferred approaches from variety of disciplinary philosophies. I have found that most philosophies have at least one helpful tips that can be applied to one of the stages of classroom management. 

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